Business / Industries

Hamburg rail link to see more freight traffic

By Wang Wen and Shi Baoyin (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-11 09:02

Hamburg rail link to see more freight traffic

The train takes 18 days to make the 10,214-kilometer trip, but that's more than twice as fast as maritime transport. [Photo by Xiang Mingchao/Asianewsphoto]

The number of freight trains traveling between Zhengzhou in Henan province and the German city of Hamburg is to be doubled by 2017, officials said, after a surge in the volume of goods being carried on the service.

Yang Wenjun, vice-president of State-owned Zhengzhou International Hub Development and Construction Co Ltd, which has operated the 10,214 kilometer route since 2013, said 150 trips have been made between the cities.

Its trains transported 60,000 tons of goods in the first 11 months of 2015, compared with 36,000 tons goods last year, said Yang, a clear sign of strengthening demand despite the slowdown in China's national economic growth.

Zhengzhou is not the country's first city to connect with Europe by train, but Yang said that almost every major region of China lies within a 1,500 kilometer radius of the central provincial capital, making it a perfect distribution center.

Wu Tianjun, Zhengzhou's Party chief, said a huge variety of goods have been transported on the service, and it has now become one of the nation's most-valuable logistics channels to Europe. It also lies on the route of the Belt and Road Initiative, making it an ideal international hub, he said.

Yang said freight trains can carry more goods than air cargo, and are much cheaper. Compared with shipping, they can travel quicker and more directly to their destinations, meaning goods can reach Hamburg from Zhengzhou in 12 days.

"Both air cargo and shipping have been hit with various problems in recent years, and certainly demand for freight trains has benefitted," said Yang.

Those two sectors' biggest issues have been overcapacity and growing competition, he said, damaging especially as the global economy has cooled. But the opposite has been true for freight trains, which are actually in short supply, especially intercontinental services.

China is the European Union's second-largest trading partner, with trade between the two sides worth 467.2 billion euros ($507.61 billion) last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Last month, the country's 20th recognized train link with the continent was launched from Nanchang in Jiangxi province to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and official figures show that 1,058 freight trains traveled to Europe in the first 10 months of 2015.

"The true value of China to Europe freight trains is not really about the volume of goods being transported, but that they create a solid international bridge between the two," said Che Tanlai, a researcher of China Railway Economic Planning Research Institute.

Qi Xin contributed to this story.

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